Lisa Adams Walter
Director of Programs
Wine Industry Symposium Group

Lisa Adams Walter joined the Wine Industry Symposium Group in 2014. She brings a diverse background that includes PR, promotional marketing and writing experience in wine, travel, entertainment, high-tech, publishing, pro sports and corporate environments. Lisa opened her boutique PR agency, Adams Walter Communications (with a focus upon wine, food and the arts) 15 years ago, and simultaneously continues in that role while working as Director of Programs for the Wine Industry Symposium Group.

A “native” of California’s Wine Country, Lisa began her wine industry career in the Hospitality Center of Inglenook Napa Valley in the early ‘80s. She majored in Communication Studies at California State University Sacramento, graduating with an emphasis in PR and Advertising. Her prior professional experience includes working as the Director of Marketing and PR for Wine Business Publications, for the Napa Valley Vintners on the second Premiere Napa Valley and as the Director of Public Relations for the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance. She currently serves as the Assistant Executive Director of the Academy of Wine Communications, as well as an appointed representative on the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee to the Napa County Board of Supervisors and is a founding member of Napa County’s “100 Women Who Care.”

 

Matthew Allen
Senior Vice President
Food & Agribusiness/Middle Market Area Manager – Mid Central Coast
Rabobank

Matthew Allen is a Senior Vice President and Area Food & Agribusiness/Middle Market Manager at Rabobank, NA in Santa Maria, California. He oversees the food & agribusiness/middle market lending team covering San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. Matthew has 20 years of commercial-middle market and agricultural lending experience. Within the agri-business sect, he has worked with many industries including dairies, vegetable growers, packers, vineyards/wineries, citrus, nuts, cotton, greenhouse operations, cattle feeders, and cow-calf operations, on the Central Coast of California, Arizona and in Bakersfield, California. On the middle market side, experience includes credit analysis, credit structuring, relationship management, acquisition financing, syndications lead/structuring and treasury management. He holds a bachelors degree in marketing from California State University, Fresno.

 

Lise Asimont
Director of Grower Relations
Francis Ford Coppola

Asimont joined the winemaking team at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in 2006 and has helped to develop their North Coast and Central Coast wine programs. As the Director of Grower Relations, she sources grapes for all wine programs at the Francis Coppola Winery, including from ten counties throughout California. She is responsible for the quality of fruit that comes to the winery and understanding the quality and style of wines that will come from each vineyard. She works closely with growers from pruning through harvest as a consulting viticulturist on behalf of the winery, aiding to enhance final wine quality. She is also responsible for the 60-acres of vineyards the Francis Ford Coppola winery owns in the Alexander Valley and for the implementation of fish-friendly, bee-friendly and sustainability certifications at the Coppola vineyards.

Asimont started her career in the wine industry while studying anthropology at Saint Mary’s College. She devoted a junior thesis to the inner-workings of a small winery in the Russian River Valley and developed a love for winegrowing. She went on to receive a master’s in viticulture from UC Davis, with master’s research on grapevine rootstock resistance to root-knot nematodes. After graduating, Asimonth went to work for Cambria Winery in Santa Barbara County as an assistant vineyard manager. In 2001, she moved to Sonoma County and worked in grower relations for Geyser Peak Winery, where all the vineyards in the state of California became her living classroom. Asimont serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Viticulture and Enology and was named president in July. She is a member of the Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm Viticulture Advisory Board and the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium Developmental Committee. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband Shawn, children Lily and Cassius, two dogs, one cat and six chickens. Her family spends their free time supporting Lily and Cassius’ sports teams, and enjoying the amazing recreational and agrarian life of western Sonoma County.

 

Michelle Ausburn
Partner
Burr Pilger Mayer

Michelle’s area of expertise is GAAP compliant financial accounting and reporting. She serves middle-market, privately-held, family owner-managed, and institutionally owned businesses and publicly held companies. She has experience working with companies in the start-up phase through ownership transition, including IPO. Over the past 10+ years, she has spent more than 90% of her time working with wineries, vineyards, real estate entities, négociants, custom crush facilities, wine and spirits distribution companies, natural and organic food companies, and non-wine agriculture. As a result, she has extensive knowledge of the more common and complex accounting issues those types of businesses face. In addition to providing traditional audit and review services, she offers guidance in the areas of business combinations, consolidations, lease accounting, inventory valuation, revenue recognition, and evaluation of internal control. Michelle also has over 10 years of experience in the area of audits of employee benefit plans.

Michelle has served on several boards including as Treasurer for the Napa/Sonoma Chapter for Women for WineSense (2011-2013) and Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair for The Healdsburg School (2013-2015). Since 2009, she has served on the planning committee for the Cal CPA Wine Industry Conference where she has also presented on GAAP accounting and reporting in the wine industry. Michelle has also participated as a speaker at the Wine Industry Technology Symposium and through Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Program. She is active in the Firm’s recruiting efforts at SSU.

 

Josh Beckett
Chronic Cellars

The concept of Chronic Cellars came about in the midst of harvest in 2004, when brothers Josh and Jake Beckett had used the term “The Chronic” to describe likable objects before, but had never considered it a suitable descriptor for wine. They sat alongside the crush pad one evening in their wine stained clothes and wet boots laughing about the idea of a wine that targeted a casual lifestyle. They were both raised in the heart of Paso Robles wine country. Wine and the art of wine making have been a part of their lives since the early ‘80s. After graduating from college they both returned to Paso Robles and joined the team at Peachy Canyon Winery. After a decade each of being immersed in all aspects of the wine industry, they decided to do their own project. They wanted to try something new and put the tools they had gathered to work on their dream. They had a vision and a desire to make a statement in the wine industry that they could not deny. After four years they took their first step toward Chronic Cellars.

 

Don Brady
Winemaker, Robert Hall
Owner, Brady Vineyards

Don Brady’s family roots are in Texas, the progeny of a farm and ranching heritage dating back to the first Texan pioneers. In the early 1980s, Brady joined the modern-day pioneers of the new Texas wine renaissance, helping to re-establish a thriving winegrowing industry in the lone-star State. In doing so, Brady oversaw production of the most-awarded wines produced in Texas. In 1991, Brady was awarded the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association’s highest honor, the “Louis F. Qualia Award” for outstanding contributions and leadership in the Texas wine industry. Presidents Ronald Regan and George Bush were served Don’s wines at several White House functions, in addition to English royalty – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.

Following his successful tenure with Texas icons such as Pheasant Ridge Winery, Llano Estacado Winery, and Ste. Genevieve Wines, Don Brady and his wife Kasi relocated to Paso Robles, California. Here, Brady was first employed as senior winemaker at Delicato Family Vineyards. While there, he earned worldwide acclaim for his part in leading the Delicato team to their receipt of the International Wine and Spirits Competition’s “United States of America’s Winemaker of the Year Award” bestowed to Delicato Family Vineyards for their wines’ cumulative performance.

The next chapter in Brady’s winemaking odyssey took him to Robert Hall Winery. In 2001, he joined Hall’s start-up winemaking venture as Winemaker and Director of Operations. From the beginning, the wines crafted at Robert Hall have earned their place at the forefront of Paso Robles offerings. So much so that in 2006, Brady was named the “Central Coast Winemaker of the Year” by the California Mid-State Fair. Following this honor, in 2010 Robert Hall Winery bested more than 600 wineries with over 3,000 entries and became the first Central Coast winery ever to be awarded the “Golden State Winery of the Year Award” by the California State Fair, the oldest and most prestigious wine competition in North America.

Presently, Don Brady continues to reside in Paso Robles, leading the team at Robert Hall with his goal of “capturing the essence of the vineyard and fashioning quality wine by coaxing the best product possible out of each vine.”

 

Peter Byck
Co-founder, CEO & President
WX

Peter co-founded WX (formerly the Winery Exchange) after serving as VP of Strategy & Business Development for Golden State Vintners, formerly one of the largest vineyard and winery owners in California. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Computer Science and Math from the University of California at Davis. Peter was raised in Sonoma County in the heart of California’s wine country, and his family owns and operates Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, CA. He likes to mountain bike on Mt. Tam, snowboard and coach youth basketball.

 

Steve Clifton
Palmina Wines

Steve Clifton, winemaker and owner, produced the first Palmina wines in the basement of his home in 1995. Steve’s appreciation for Italian wines began while working in Italian restaurants. His career in the wine industry had begun in 1991 when he left his previous incarnations as a musician and nightclub entrepreneur behind and decided to beg his way into a tasting room position at Rancho Sisquoc winery. Little by little he worked his way into the cellar and in time became the Assistant Winemaker there.

Over the next few years Steve’s on the job schooling would include production and winemaking positions at Beckmen, Brander and Domaine Santa Barbara wineries. To round out his knowledge in the marketing and sales area of the industry, from 1995 to 1998, Steve managed The Wine Cask retail store in Santa Barbara. Steve met Greg Brewer in 1995 and formed the partnership that has become Brewer-Clifton, a winery solely devoted to vineyard-designated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in western Santa Barbara County.

Audra Cooper
Broker
Turrentine Brokerage

Audra Cooper began her tenure with Turrentine Brokerage in 2006, working with growers and vineyards throughout the state. Audra has also been instrumental in upgrading technology at Turrentine, as a valuable member of the technology committee. She excelled at building relationships and understanding market conditions, and as a result, was promoted to a grape broker position in 2010. Audra set her focus on the North Coast for Turrentine and has significantly expanded the company’s North Coast grape sales over the last six years. Audra’s clients report that she is an expert at explaining how to master the challenges and uncover the opportunities of changing market conditions.
In early summer of 2012, Audra returned to her roots, accepting the position as Turrentine Brokerage’s lead Central Coast grape broker. Audra grew up on ranches in the Central Coast and graduated from California State University at Fresno with a degree in Agribusiness. Prior to Fresno State, she attended Hartnell College in Salinas, where she was president of the Hartnell College Ag Ambassadors. During her college years, Audra worked for Dr. Robert Wample as a research assistant and as a vineyard technician for G.O. Farming.

Wayne Donaldson
Winemaker
Josh Cellars

Wayne Donaldson has been a leader in the international wine industry for 27 years. His career began in his homeland of Australia where he earned an enology degree from the prestigious Roseworthy Agricultural College. Following graduation from college, Wayne began his career working as assistant winemaker at high-end table wine producer Brokenwood Wines. In 1988, while earning his Graduate Diploma in Management from Deakin University in Victoria, he became a founding member of the Domaine Chandon Australia winemaking team. Over the next eleven years, he rose to Chief Winemaker and Operations Manager, creating both a sparkling wine and still wine portfolio, which garnered numerous domestic and international awards including “Best Sparkling Wine of the Year” at the 1998 International Wine Challenge held in London.

In 2000 he was promoted to vice-president of winemaking and vineyards for Domaine Chandon California, and parent company, Moet Hennessy USA. This new position, headquartered in Napa Valley, broadened his role to direct all of the company’s sparkling and still wine programs. It also afforded him the opportunity to elevate the quality and prestige of the American sparkling wine brand, with success evidenced by two consecutive years of double-digit growth and doubled profits. During five years in the position he also led the development and launch of the winery’s first varietal still wine program, designed several new sparkling wine styles, planted new vineyards, and reconfigured the winery and winemaking program for higher quality at lower overhead. In 2003 Newton Vineyards was acquired by Moet Hennessy. Wayne joined the board of Directors for Newton Vineyards advising on the strategic development of Newton’s Spring Mountain vineyard and winery facility.

After five years at Domaine Chandon, in 2005 Wayne seized the opportunity to become director of north coast winemaking for E&J Gallo Winery, the largest privately owned wine group in the United States. Responsible for all Bordeaux varietal brands, all Pinot Noir brands, the William Hill Winery brand and the Louis Martini brand, Wayne oversaw all elements of the business, including wine style development, wine quality, grape supply, portfolio communication and budget control. By 2008 he was promoted to senior director of coastal winemaking, which held Wayne responsible for all wine grape varietals across all of Gallo’s premium portfolio brands; the winemaking facilities in Napa County, Sonoma County, and Santa Barbara County. During that time, Wayne was responsible for the winemaking, wine style development, and launch of three new successful wine brands: Starborough, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Ghost Pines, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay from Napa and Sonoma: and Red Rock, a Merlot and Malbec from California.

With experience in many of the world’s finest wine growing regions including Champagne, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and California and knowledge of all aspects of he wine business, Wayne decided to expand his repertoire and launch his own winery consulting business. And in 2013, he further flexed his entrepreneurial wings and launched the inaugural release of his own wine brand–EONIAN.

 

Gary Eberle
Owner, Enologist
Eberle Winery

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, several vineyards were planted in the Paso Robles region, yet there was not a winery truly competing on a national or international level. The arrival of Gary Eberle in 1972 began one of the brightest winemaking chapters in the history of Paso Robles.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Eberle started his college career in 1962 at Pennsylvania State University, commonly known as Penn State. Given a full scholarship, he balanced his duties as a defensive lineman for the football team and as a student studying biology. Gary Eberle met and married his wife Jeanie and after graduation moved to Louisiana where he did his graduate work in cellular genetics at Louisiana State University (LSU).

During his time at LSU, a professor introduced him to the magical world of food and wine. Tasting a sampling of fine, classified growth Bordeaux from his professor’s cellar, Mr. Eberle took a keen interest in Cabernet Sauvignon. He began to envision the possibility of creating a wine that would rival those of Bordeaux and soon found himself on an airplane to California.

He arrived at the University of California at Davis, where he met with the chair of the enology department and explained that he wanted to become a winemaker. Impressed with Mr. Eberle’s credentials, the professor admitted him to the doctoral program without the usual qualifying exam.

During his work at Davis, Gary Eberle realized the untapped potential of the Paso Robles region and decided it was where his winemaking future lay and arrived in 1973. After founding the Estrella River Winery, Mr. Eberle yearned for his own winery focusing on premium red wines. The dream was realized with the release of his first “Eberle” wine, a 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982.

Today, Eberle handcrafts 25,000 cases of wine each year from surrounding Estate vineyards. And, after more than 25 years since the release of the Eberle label, the winery consistently remains one of the highest award-winning wineries in the United States.

 

Elizabeth S. Fitch
Founding Partner
Righi Fitch Law Group

Elizabeth S. Fitch is a founding member of Righi Fitch Law Group. She is a trial attorney with over 28 years of civil defense experience and has the AV Preeminent Rating. Beth has defended numerous multi-million dollar cases ranging from catastrophic injuries to construction defect cases. She has represented all types of professionals from lawyers to architects. Because of her defense of insureds under general liability insurance policies, Beth has successfully handled the entire gamut of complex tort cases ranging from construction mishaps to wrongful death to sexual harassment. She has been featured twice in Attorney At Law and co-authored the Construction Defect chapter of the Arizona State Tort Law Handbook. In 2014 she was again recognized as a Super Lawyer and inducted into Arizona’s Finest Lawyers.

Her practice has concentrated on representing businesses and individuals in complex civil litigation matters. The nature of complex litigation not only requires experience and knowledge about the substantive law but also requires sophistication in addressing the interrelated contractual and complex insurance issues. She has developed expertise in risk management and assists clients with risk transfer strategies such as pursuing indemnity and primary, excess, and additional insurance coverage for clients.

Beth focuses her time working with clients on strategic planning for the complex cases. Recognizing that clients are best served by quick resolution of cases, at the outset of every case she looks for innovative solutions that bring about the client’s desired result in an economical and expedient manner.

Beth is certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. The CIPP/US certification is the preeminent privacy credential in the US private sector. Beth serves as the Chief Information Security Officer for her law firm. Beth counsels companies and insureds on cyber liability and responding to data breaches. Beth coordinates the Cyber Early Response Team for Themis Advocates Group and is published on Cyber liability risks.

Beth is a third generation Arizonan and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her great grandmother founded successful wholesale and retail businesses. Her dad followed in this tradition and started a successful retail business and cattle ranch. As a result she understands the business needs of clients and applies entrepreneurial principles to her practice.

 

David Freed
Chairman
The Silverado Group

David I. Freed is a former tax and corporate attorney with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Freed practiced law at Tobin & Tobin in San Francisco for more than 15 years before transitioning to a full time focus on vineyard and winery investments.
In 1988, Mr. Freed organized UCC Vineyards Group to consolidate all wine-related activities into a single company with properties in Napa and Sonoma. In 1991 Mr. Freed relocated the company offices to Napa, California. In 2004 UCC merged into Silverado WineGrowers, LLC resulting today in a company with over 2,000 acres in the coastal regions of California.

In 1992, UCC helped organize the first Wine Industry Financial Symposium, which has become an annual event. In 1995, an additional event was launched in the Central Coast area, which is now known as the Central Coast Insights program and a year later the Vineyard Economics Seminar was launched in Napa.

In 1994 Mr. Freed organized Silverado Partners in association with Michael Moone, George Vare and Richard Lemon which provided the equity for the sale/leaseback of the Callaway Vineyards in Temecula, California. In January 1996, Silverado Partners participated in the acquisition of the Beringer Wine World Estates from Nestle International in association with The Texas Pacific Group (now TPG Capital). The Silverado Partners also facilitated the purchase of Chateau St. Jean Winery and Stag’s Leap Winery by Beringer.

In October 1997 Mr. Freed and Mr. Mark E. Couchman organized Silverado Premium Properties, LLC in association with Colony Capital, Inc. and principals of the Texas Pacific Group and today serves as its Chairman. To date, under the direction of Mr. Couchman, its President, SPP owns in excess of 10,000 acres of premium wine grape vineyards in California’s coastal counties.

 

William Goebel
Bulk Wine Broker
Turrentine Brokerage

William Goebel graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Wine Business Strategy. Prior to signing on with Turrentine Brokerage in 2010, William worked for Trinchero Family Estates, both working in the cellar and administering wine sales.
He started out managing our sample department, providing sales support for the bulk brokerage team and directly handled bulk sales for many clients. William was then promoted to Bulk Wine Broker in 2013 through his hard work and dedication to the company and our clients. Turrentine Brokerage’s clients have appreciated William’s approachable demeanor combined with his high energy and organization to get things done. William resides in Sonoma County and enjoys thrashing the local trails on his mountain bike and skiing the slopes in Tahoe.

 

Wes Hagen
Consulting Winemaker, Brand Ambassador, Raconteur
J. Wilkes Wines

This former English teacher brings an analytical and thoughtful approach to winemaking, specifically Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He received his viticultural and winemaking training from the University of California at Davis extension program. His small lot production and strict allocation program have helped earn him 90+ point scores from Wine Spectator, Robert Parker and Decanter Magazine. Wes successfully researched, penned and gained approval for three AVA’s in Santa Barbara: Santa Rita Hills (2001), Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (2011) and Ballard Canyon (2013). For the past four years he has taught the Wine and Food Pairing Program at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Wes is the Winemaker and Brand Ambassador for J. Wilkes Wines, an AVA-focused premium wine brand based in Santa Maria Valley, California.

 

Bruce Jordan
Vineyard Manager
Reserve Vineyard Management

Bruce is originally from Southern California. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona and spent fifteen years working in the landscape industry focusing on landscape construction and plant propagation for a wholesale grower in the Southern California area. In 2007, Bruce moved up to the Central Coast where he proceeded to work on his Master’s degree at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in Crop Science with an emphasis in Viticulture. Bruce began working for Reserve Vineyard Management in 2010 and oversees vineyard operations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Bruce manages approximately 800 acres of vineyards along the Central Coast. He works with numerous wineries throughout California producing quality grapes for both large and small wineries.

 

David B. Leal
Vice President, Key Relationship Manager
Farm Credit West

David Leal, Key Relationship Manager at Farm Credit West, specializes in winery and vineyard financing in Paso Robles. Leal presently works with over forty wineries and vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA. Prior to joining Farm Credit, Leal spent 10 years in Walla Walla, WA where he honed his skills and knowledge in the wine industry both as a lender in the industry as well as an owner of a small vineyard and winery. Leal has served as a past Board Member of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, as President of the Board of Directors for Camp Fire USA Walla Walla Council, as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority as appointed by then Governor Christine Gregoire. Leal earned a MBA with an emphasis in Finance from Willamette University and earned a BS degree with an emphasis in Marketing from Santa Clara University.

William Matthews
Project Scientist
UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center

William A. Matthews is a Research Economist with the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. Matthews has been a part of the UC AIC team since April, 2008. Since joining AIC, Matthews’ research efforts have contributed to various projects ranging from the economic implications of policy changes on California agriculture, assessing the value of international exports of California produced commodities and providing economic analysis to various agricultural industry groups within California. He is currently involved in research projects that examine issues related to the economic contributions of the wine industry, policy changes in the shell-egg industry and the California forage crops industry. Prior to his arrival at AIC, Matthews achieved his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri.

Andy Mitchell
Director of Viticulture
Hahn Estate Vineyards, Hahn Family Wines

Andy Mitchell is the Director of Viticulture for Hahn Estate Vineyards and Hahn Family Wines. He has been with the Hahn Family since 1998 (18 years) and oversees the production of premium wine grapes on the Vineyards of Hahn Estate which encompasses 6 Vineyards that total just over 1,100 acres. Andy is also the liaison for growers that produce fruit purchased by Hahn Family Wines, and the primary contact for wineries that purchase fruit from Hahn Estate.

 

Rae Ann Paulson
Assurance Services Senior Manager
Moss Adams LLP

Rae Paulson has been in public accounting since 2005. She provides assurance services for clients in a variety of industries, predominantly wine, food processing, and natural resources. Rae also manages all phases of employee benefit plan audits, including 401(k), 403(b), defined benefit, and health and welfare plans. She is responsible for training staff and seniors on employee benefit plan issues and maintains current knowledge of industry regulations through ongoing continuing professional education. She has presented on a wide array of topics at several wine industry events such as “Budgeting 2015: Top Changes You Need to Make” (Family Winemakers of California webcast, November 2014); “Wine Inventory Flow and Costing” (Family Winemakers of California webcast, November 2013) and “Preventing Fraud Before It Starts” (Moss Adams Reserve webcast, August 2012). Paulson is a member of: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Member and California Society of Certified Public Accountants. She earned her BS, health science, from St. Mary’s College of California and MBA from Sonoma State University.

Mark Pearce
Senior Vice President
Central Coast Commercial Market Manager
Central Coast Agriculture Lending Group
Umpqua Bank

A California native and long-time resident of the Central Coast, Pearce has more than 20 years of experience in agricultural finance and is a leading authority in the industry.

Before joining Umpqua Bank, Pearce spent more than 15 years with Farm Credit West on the Central Coast. He was the senior vice president in charge of their Paso Robles office serving nearly 500 area farmers and ranchers. Most recently, he was their regional vice president of agribusiness responsible for Capital Markets sales and purchase transactions along with serving area agribusiness customers. Pearce is a 10-year member of the Agricultural Liaison Advisory Board of San Luis Obispo County, and serves on the board of Chrysalis House, a nonprofit adoption agency in Fresno, Calif.

Pearce is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he earned a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business management. He attended the Pacific Coast Banking School and holds a Chartered Financial Consultant designation from The American College in Bryn Mawr, Penn.

 

Jennifer Porter
Executive Director
Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance

Jennifer Porter became Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in November 2011. Under her leadership, Paso Robles launched their first consumer marketing campaign and an original weekly web content series to great success. Due to the efforts of the Wine Alliance, awareness and recognition of the region continues to grow, including Paso Robles being named 2013 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Porter began her career in advertising, working with brands including LVMH and Reebok, winning the 2001 Cannes Media Lion. For five years Jennifer served as Director of Marketing & Media for Sony Corporation of America, where she created and executed global cross-company marketing programs, including those for the Spider-Man and Bond movie franchises. She was a member of the taskforce responsible for the company’s presentations at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow. Most recently Porter led the Integrated Marketing department for Viacom’s Comedy Central, creating innovative marketing programs for network clients in shows like the Emmy Award-winning The Colbert Report.

Prior to relocating from New York City to California, Porter completed a 15-month worldwide trip, working in a Tuscan vineyard and visiting all the New World wine regions. She holds Bachelors of Science degree in Marketing from Providence College and has also completed the Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1 and WSET Level 2 courses.

 

Larry Schaffer
Owner & Winemaker
Tercero Wine

Larry Schaffer is owner/winemaker for tercero wines, a label that produces small lot, hand crafted wines using grapes exclusively from leading Santa Barbara County vineyards. The main focus of the label are rhone varieties, but Larry also makes a ‘dryish’ Gewurztraminer as well as a crisp Albarino.

Larry’s wine career has been quite circuitous. He started at UC Davis as an undergrad, but then transferred to UC Berkeley, where he got his Bachelor’s Degree from the Haas Undergraduate Business School. He worked in the music industry as a financial analyst, and then went into the publishing and specialty toy businesses in the sales and marketing areas.

About 15 years ago, Larry felt that not only had he achieved what he wanted in the industries he was in, but that he didn’t feel that his mind was being challenged anymore. It was at that time that he decided to start his path towards winemaking, taking on his ‘fears’ of science courses head on. After taking classes at junior colleges with kids who were young enough to be his own (!) and working part time at two wineries in Temecula, he was accepted to UC Davis for their Masters Program in Viticulture and Enology. Less then two years later, Larry landed a job with the Fess Parker Winery and remained there on the winemaking team for 7 vintages, until leaving in mid-2011 to concentrate on his own brand – and taking care of his three children.

Larry currently sits on the National Board of Directors for the Rhone Rangers and is their Santa Barbara County Chapter President; he has sat on the Board of the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association and remains one of the regions strongest ‘cheerleaders’; he teaches courses for Allan Hancock College as well.

 

Melissa Stackhouse
Director of Winemaking
MEIOMI

“Health, family, food and wine – all at the same time” is how Melissa Stackhouse, Clos du Bois Director of Winemaking, describes her idea of perfect happiness, and it is clear that winemaking for her is much more than a job. With a passion for the artistry behind winemaking coupled with an appreciation of a balanced lifestyle, Melissa brings a unique vision and spirit to her role at Clos du Bois.

With as much zeal and enthusiasm as when she first started out in the industry, Melissa aspires to create wines that are meant to be enjoyed while laughing and sharing a delicious meal with friends and family. While laidback and easygoing by nature, Melissa has an extensive and impressive background at some of California’s top wineries, including La Crema, J Vineyards & Winery and Jackson Family Wines.

Prior to earning her Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, Melissa tried her hand at everything from working at a local newspaper and pottery studio to organic farming in New Zealand before discovering her passion for winemaking while wine tasting with friends. Her “aha moment” came when she realized that a career in winemaking combined her love of agriculture and science with her desire for creative expression through the production of each vintage. “It is rare that you find a career that involves working with the earth and also requires a level of creativity and artistry. This unique combination is what drew me to winemaking,” says Melissa.

 

Scott Williams
Vineyard Manager
Pacific Vineyard Company

Scott joined the Pacific Vineyard team in 2004 after working as the Vineyard Developer and Viticulturist for J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles for five years. Before entering the wine business, Scott worked as an agronomist with Pacific Agronomics located in the San Joaquin Valley. Receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Botany-Biology at California State University – Fresno, Scott continued his studies at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to complete his Masters Degree in Plant Protection.

 

Doug Wilson
Vice President Winery Relations and Bulk Wine Sales
Silverado Investment Management Company

Doug Wilson is Vice President of Winery Relations for Silverado Investment Management Company for the Central Coast Regions. Previously he was Director of Coastal Grower Relations at Gallo-Sonoma as well as Director of Grower Relations at Fetzer Vineyards. Prior to this he was white wine maker at Fetzer Vineyards. He has also been Winemaker at Hanna Winery and Assistant Winemaker at Chimney Rock Winery. After graduating from college he was the enologist at ZD wines.

Mr. Wilson graduated from Fresno State University with a B.S. in enology in 1988.

 

Brendan Wright
Business Development
John Sutak Risk Services

John Sutak Risk Services is the Manager of the WineRe® Specialty Insurance Program. Developed over a quarter-century ago, WineRe® is the only proprietary insurance program for the wine industry, providing comprehensive insurance coverage for winemakers of all sizes.

John Sutak Risk Services is a boutique insurance brokerage firm dedicated exclusively to serving winemakers and the wine industry. This allows us to handle all aspects of coverage, loss control, claims and support completely in-house by a team that truly knows the wine industry.

Brendan is involved in all aspects of the program, developing new business, underwriting, participating in on-site loss control visits, and monitoring the claims process.

Brendan has recently focused his efforts on Cyber Risks in the Wine Industry. A growing risk area, as Direct to Consumer sales increase, and more confidential information is held on computers, by vendors, and online. Brendan previously worked at Marsh and Alliant Insurance Services in account management roles, and earned his degree in Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Mario Zepponi
Principal
Zepponi & Company

Mario Zepponi has extensive experience performing valuations and negotiating and structuring purchase, sale and lease transactions. Mr. Zepponi has served as a transaction advisor to several wineries, including wine brands, winery estates and parties seeking to create strategic alliances. Prior to forming Zepponi & Company, Mr. Zepponi practiced law as a corporate, real estate and winery attorney. He has extensive expertise in representing sellers, purchasers, and operators of wineries, succession planning issues, and negotiating and drafting asset and stock purchase agreements, buy-sell agreements, vineyard leases and development agreements, grape purchase and processing agreements, and sales and marketing agreements.

Mario Zepponi received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and his law and MBA degrees from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He has served on several winery, business and community non-profit advisory boards.